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The best time of the year, is usually the saddest time of the year.
As we prepare for what is sure to be the “Best” Electric Island of the year on Labour Day weekend, we are also saying goodbye to yet another summer come and gone. Electric Island became a staple throughout Toronto’s summer almost immediately after inception and from the beginning to this years Closing parties, it has never disappointed, even if it hasn’t always been on the island.
2017’s closing party is one for the books with the likes of Claude Von Stroke, Chris Liebing, Dusky Sonny Fodera, Nitin, Gab Home, My Favourite Robot, CRi, Simon Jain, Brian Johnson & Sam Haze taking over Sundays festivities.
Monday will feature Sven Vath, Dixon, The Black Madonna, Yotto, Mall Grab, Soul Clap, Jamie Kidd, Terrence Kissner, Jeff Button & Koki.
It’s safe to say that our summer is just about over, but not before we have one last party on the island.
There’s not much in this world I love more than cracking open a cold one with friends.
No, not that kind of cold one.
I’m talking about a can of Diet Coke and I’m talking about cracking it open at one of the countless music festivals I attend each year. However, as I’m sure many of you have noticed, this summer’s calendar has an odd scarcity of festivals in comparison to years passed.
While last year there seemed to be a festival every weekend, this year I find myself lined up for a corn dog in the middle of a usually busy but barricaded city street- Think Dundas West Fest, Taste of Little Italy and most likely Taste of the Danforth in the very near future. Long gone are the days of me lining up at a refillable water station trying to stay hydrated in the middle of a heatwave and not murder the 19 year old kandi kid (see 2nd year Honours Science student at Queens) next to me. Seriously, why are you in a tutu? Why do you need a beaded mask? Are you Future? Mask off. Go back to Kingston.
So yes, the music festival landscape of our beloved city seems to be changing, however, we saw this coming didn’t we? With such a quick rise to the top, it was inevitable that there would be a plummet to the bottom. In 2012 saw the launch of arguably Toronto’s most known festival, Digital Dreams Music Festival. The opening season boasted a line up of Richie Hawtin, Duck Sauce and Chuckie. Along with Digital Dreams, Toronto festivals like Veld, Electric Island, Time Festival, Bestival, Play Festival, and the one off favourites like Corona Sunsets, the Dirtybird BBQ and a few other day parties and Cabana rips have populated our summer passed. However, this summer’s layout looks much different.
There are a visible lack of the all these festivals. The big boys (Coachella, Bonaroo, Gov Ball, etc) are very much still ruling their weekends, but suddenly I’m booking off fewer and fewer summer days. I’m also able to occupy my weekends with day adventures around the city- you know the type. The days when you start at one restaurant, then friends come and join you and suddenly you’re on Cherry Beach watching the sunset or on a friends roof watching the sun come up. No, not a rooftop patio- just a roof.
But what happened to the festivals? Why are they no more? There are a few reasons that could attribute to the drop of popularity. Like the Toronto housing bubble, the North American (and some could argue European as well) festival bubble was bound to pop at some point and while it may not completely burst this year, we’re not far off. In my very unofficial opinion, I can look to three main reasons why this is happening.
Consolidation & Decision Paralysis
Festival Stereotypes & Fatigue
Over-commercialization can be summed up pretty easily. Festivals are still about the music, about dancing in the rain and about your feet in the sand and throwing your hands in the air, but they have also quickly become about the best brand activation, the free give-aways, and what brand is watermarked on all your Snapchat filters. However, festival goers understand that sometimes the commercialization isn’t all evil. Due to the oodles and oodles of money that sponsors toss out to festival, ticket prices can remain semi-affordable.
I know, imagine if they didn’t?! But it’s still a lot.
It’s a lot of paid media thrown in your face. I mean, I don’t care that much. If Intergalactic Gary is throwing down a fire set, or if The Black Madonna is about to tear apart a stage only to build it back up again, I don’t care what Snapchat filter I may be in; the name on the banner behind the stage; or the name on the beer in my friends hand (they will have Coke products though, right?). But there’s something blatantly not rock and roll about the whole sponsorship element.
Consolidation of the festivals can be traced back to 2001 when AEG, one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world bought Goldenvoice and the countless festivals under it’s umbrella. Back in 2001 these included Stagecoach, Firefly, Hangout and the behemoth that is Coachella. It’s counterpart and equally as massive corporation, Live Nation quickly bought up all the other boutique festivals which launched both companies into a buying spree. Eventually, all festivals began to look very similar.
In 2001 twenty of the 103 performers at AEG’s Coachella this year are among the 166 acts playing at Live Nation’s Bonaroo. That means that one-tenth of Bonaroo’s lineup and one-fifth of Coachella’s lineup are exactly the same. So, at that point does it just come down to whether you rather be in Tennessee or Indo? Do you want to look around and see mountains or fields? I’ll stick to that desert heat, please.
This consolidation was followed by decision paralysis- there’s a lot of festivals, how can you pick? They all have eerily similar line ups (this is from Live Nation and AEG respectively being able to buy more headlining acts for a better rate because of the Costco pricing system. AKA buying in bulk is always best!) This same system lends itself to festival talent buying quite seamlessly. However, it turns into a stale and strikingly standard list of artists.
Finally, the idea of festival fatigue mixed with the overbearing stereotyping of festivals. At this point, I went to my first festival 7 years ago and at that point they weren’t even branded as festivals- just weekend long rips at Guvernment and leaving my car in the Loblaws parking lot. Since then I’ve been to festivals all around the world- each one boasting beautiful set designs, an over hyped headliner, a knock out no-name that quickly becomes your new favorite talent, and of course a corn-dog and an after party you’re sure changed you to your core.
However, as I slowly enter my late (ew) 20s, the appeal of hitting a three day party seems like a lot (ask any of my friends and they’ll stop me after saying “three day” knowing damn well I rarely make a Day 3 and personally turn most festivals into 2 day events. And then there’s the stereotype of festivals that no doubt hinder new business and new attendees from puling trigger and spending their money on what is perceived by many to be an event with as many flower crowned femmes and tank top bros as possible, all ingesting whatever pink, blue, or white chemical they’ve been told is clean and so good.
It’s clear festivals are slowly becoming less and less of a lure for music lovers, so the question is, can the corporations step up to the challenge and evolve or will something else fill the void?
I’m excited to find out, and might just crack open a cold one to so how it unfolds.
The rain might have postponed this weekends celebrations but it did not stop them from happening. Before the event even started, the E.I team were relentlessly working on securing a venue for the second instalment of the party series and succeeded with The Portlands on Commissioners road.
Once the stage was set, it was left to the artists to make the long weekend memorable for those in attendance. Richie Hawtin had the privilege of closing the day out before artists Maceo Plex and Recondite took the stage to set the mood. The second stage was also set with a number of Toronto locals including Aleksandar Kojic, Borzoo and Nadia before Chaim had closing duties.
Considering the amount of work needed to make an event happen at a new venue in such a small period of time, E.I, even without the I was a very special event. Production, setup, music and everything in between were on display and were taken very seriously with every detail considered.
Though we all hope the next Electric island will actually be on the Toronto islands, it’s fitting to know that the team behind the event series will always go over an beyond, even when their backs are pushed against the wall.
Hard-work isn’t always rewarded, it can be over-looked and under appreciated, but it’s a risk a lot of people are willing to take. Among the hundreds of DJ sets over the past year, Enzo Siragusa and the FUSE family have been names that continue to pop up everywhere. There is something to be said of those who have the ability to turn heads and move dance floors, all the while pushing their own unique sound. A true definition of hard-work, paying off.
The funny part about ‘Fusic’ is how organically the sound grew. “It’s quite a stripped-back tone and that really evolved from the party, always the B-sides to records. The trippy dub sides with wobbly grooves.” – Enzo Siragusa
FUSE started as a party series in 2008 and grew into a label in 2011. It’s something Enzo created that served as an outlet to showcase music, artists and tracks. FUSE encompassed the underground and pushed the boundaries while paying attention to detail with all matters. Fast forward to a long, but rewarding 2016 where years of hard work started to really pay off for a group of artists who were creating music and throwing parties regularly. Their dub-house sound is evolving and unique, so much so that the FUSE faithful call it Fusic.
The most important thing is to create a certain type of vibe for an underground party. I’ve always focused firstly on the sound and when I say ‘sound,’ I’m referring to technically, how it resonates and reverberates – Enzo Siragusa
Maybe you missed me, but you probably liked the break too, everyone loves a break. I had a pretty long, and exhausting spring. I moved, went to California (twice), and was unable to catch the Belleville Three at Coachella where they launched their North American tour (in my defense they played day three). In this time, I switched career paths and managed to make some new friends and see a lot of old ones too.
But as the days grow longer and (thank God) hotter, we are reminded.. summer is coming.
AND WE ARE EXCITED.
Summer means dancing outside instead of in the dark lit club basements which I also have a love for, the summer means afternoons basking in the sun on patio and listening to more tech house than techno. Luckily disco is great any time of the year. Summer means reaching the island and seeing how the magnificent people at Embrace, Footwork, and Platform have taken a one stage one off party into the absolutely amazing party it is today. This year’s island parties boast some of my favourite artists- Black Madonna, anyone?
Summer means the new and improved Digital Dreams Festival now rebranded as just Dreams Festival. It’s set to be held on Echo Beach and is now 19+. Honestly, I lost faith in this homegrown tradition, but love the idea of this, let’s hope it pans out.
In my mind, summer kicks off not only with the first island installment, but also with DEMF. No, it’s not what it used to be, but it’s still Detroit and fuck you if you think you’re too good for Detroit. You’re not.
Then there’s other festivals some near- like Osheaga, and some further like Lollapalooza, Dekmantel, and Selectors. All however, have a focus on music, community and dancing. All my favourite things.
Together we’ll look passed the rainy days and get sun burnt sitting on those patios I mentioned earlier. Days will turn to nights too quickly and sure enough labour day will be upon us before another cold winter. But until then, let’s rejoice in the warm weather and all that we have to look forward to- it’s quite a lot.
Artist: Dario D’Attis Title: Bogaloo EP Label: Lapsus Music Catalogue Number: LPS194 Release Date: April 28th, 2017
Lapsus Music continues its relentless release schedule with their 16th release of the year already. Providing the tunes for the Italian label is Swiss Producer Dario D’Attis who doesn’t disappoint with his Bogaloo EP. Dario is no stranger to Lapsus Music, as this latest EP marks his 8th release on the label but it’s his first solo release with the Italian label. D’Attis has been spitting out quality music for many years with successful releases on Hive, Dftd, and Poker Flat Recordings; and this one is no different. As we have seen over the years, his classic New York and New Jersey house influence is on full display within this latest EP.
First up is the title track, “Bogaloo”. A house roller with flowing hi hats and lively elastic drums. Dario does a solid job in mixing in some great synth work and vocals that echo throughout. A real sharp tune that holds an abundance of great vibes.
The second of the two tracks is “Try Moon”. The tune is built with loopy layers that swing down low and grab the attention of the listener. The percussion is really smooth and clean while the overall groove is inventive. D’Attis uses a vocal sample throughout that almost acts like a layer of the drum line, an interesting and impressive aspect of the track. Another quality tune.
Both of these tracks are interesting and well done, creating a tight and tidy two track EP from Dario D’Attis. Lapsus Music comes through with another quality release to add to their already impressive resume.
Artist (s): Various Artists Title: Moon Harbour 100 Label: Moon Harbour Catalogue Number: MHR100 Release Date: April 12th, 2017
Tracklist: 1). Matthias Tanzmann – Mahoney Baloney
2). Dan Drastic & Sven Tasnadi – Tastic
3). Luna City Express – Saturday
4). Daniel Stefanik – Resurrection
17 years after its creation in 2000, the Leipzig label has hit its 100th release and they have done it in style. André Quaas and Matthias Tanzmann’s label have actually put out roughly 150 EPs, albums and compilations but this 100th vinyl release is a special family affair for the label. Moon Harbour 100 features key artists Dan Drastic, Sven Tasnadi, Luna City Express, Daniel Stefanik and Matthias Tanzmann himself.
First up is the man who started it all, Matthias Tanzmann. “Mahoney Baloney” is 7 minutes of teasing tech house. Bubbly synth sounds percolate through the dry hollow drums while spoken word vocals add freakiness as it echoes throughout. The warm and rubbery bass ties everything together. Overall another bomb, something we have come to expect from the captain.
Label manager Dan Drastic and his usual sparring partner Sven Tasnadi come together once again for their joint effort, “Tastic”. A deep but cavernous track that features smooth vocals and warm colorful chords that sooth the soul. It is a playful and smartly incendiary track that constantly builds throughout and leaves us with another dance floor banger.
Label mainstays Luna City Express then offer their services for the third track, “Saturday”. A hard hitting track that features vamping synths, frazzled pads and discordant stabs that bring a real wavy feel to the rooted kick drums. A high energy cut that will definitely keep the crowd on its toes for its twisting duration.
The project concludes with the master of intricacy Daniel Stefanik’s“Resurrection”. Restless and bouncy killer drum loops and skewed chords fuel the track, while nicely coiled drums bring a real sense of house funk to the EP. You will be sure to get swept up in this fine tune.
With these 4 very different yet vital cuts, Moon Harbour encapsulates what has made the label so important over the last 100 releases. The German label has helped make the careers of many artists, discovered new talents and showcased underground heroes at the same time. Moon Harbour confirms that while they have grown up they are still young at heart.
Congratulations to Moon Harbour on their impressive milestone release. You can purchase the EP HERE and you can preview the project below.
Get Physical has released 2 Ricardo Villalobos Remixes that accompany an original mix by Reboot on the track titled “Are You Losing My Mind”.
With 20 minutes a track, Ricardo explores two very different sound between the two remixes. First being ‘Hauswiedermischung’, which creates an organized chaos that consistently pushes a groove. The second, “Losing my Miles” Remix, version where the track takes over his creativity while taking the listener on a wild ride.